What are the leading causes of stress for Americans?

What are the leading causes of stress for Americans?

One study reveals that discrimination is a leading cause of stress for Americans.

The Stress in America survey released by the American Psychological Association found that seven in 10 adults reported they experienced discrimination, defined as being treated with less courtesy or respect, threatened, or harassed. And almost half of adults experienced major forms of discrimination such as unfair treatment by police, being unfairly fired or denied a promotion, or receiving poor treatment from health care providers.

“It’s clear that discrimination is widespread and impacts many people, whether it is due to race, ethnicity, age, disability, gender, or sexual orientation,” said Jaime Diaz-Grenados, executive director of the American Psychological Association, in a statement. “And when people frequently experience unfair treatment, it can contribute to increased stress and poorer health.”

The survey, which polled more than 3,300 adults, indicates that even the anticipation of discrimination can contribute to stress. For example, study participants said they take their appearance into consideration to avoid harassment or to receive good service. Others noted the need to prepare for insults before leaving home and being extra cautious about what they say along with the tone they use to speak.

Other stress factors reported in the study include work, money, the economy, health concerns, and family responsibilities. While these daily stress factors tend to remain the same throughout the years, more Americans reported experiencing extreme stress. In fact, 24 percent of adults reported experiencing extreme stress, compared to 18 percent in 2014.

Dr. Maleeha Ahsan, a psychiatrist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., says it’s important to learn how to react to life’s stresses in a healthy way; otherwise, chronic stress can lead to health complications.

For example, study participants who reported higher stress levels also described their health as “fair” or “poor,” as compared to “very good” or “excellent” health described by those with average stress levels.

“Everyone feels pressured and stressed from time to time from work, school and family dynamics. Sometimes stress can be positive when it gives you more energy to reach a deadline at work or to study for an exam,” says Dr. Ahsan. “However, a large amount of stress can have a negative effect on your health from headaches, insomnia, weight gain, anxiety, pain, and even high blood pressure.”

Dr. Ahsan offers the following tips to manage stress:

  • Take a break – give yourself permission to step away and clear your head.
  • Get enough sleep – your body needs additional sleep and rest during stressful times.
  • Exercise – staying physically active benefits your body and your mind. Go for a walk, run, swim, or even dance to music in your living room.
  • Practice relaxation and mindfulness techniques – try a breathing exercise, meditation, prayer, yoga, or tai chi.
  • Talk to someone – confide in family and friends about how you are feeling and look for ways that they can help. A physician or therapist can also provide professional help.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything – put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?

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5 Comments

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  2. How many of those people who claimed to have experienced discrimination are straight, white, cisgender males who believe that treating women, people of color and LGBTQ people equally amounts to “discrimination” against them?

  3. Your point is well taken. However, I know that as a straight, white male who also is now considered “old,” I have been discriminated against professionally. In my time, it was called favoritism, so I needed to decide what my response needed to be. Usually once I announced that I was leaving, that is when the light went on regarding my value in the boss’s mind. Call it what you will, it has been part of the human experience since time immemorial. Remember, you cannot control other people. You can control your reactions to them.

  4. ” —Christine Morton, PhD, author, Birth Ambassadors: Doulas and the Re-Emergence of Woman-Supported Birth in America   Stress, Pregnancy and the “Strong Black Woman” Syndrome Chronic stress and psychological distress have numerous impacts on women’s health, including negatively affecting reproductive health. Researchers have found that stress and traumatic life events during pregnancy contribute to preterm birth (less than 37 weeks), and low birthweight. 14 Researchers have also investigated the impact of racism, including lifelong experiences of racism, chronic stress and posttraumatic stress disorder. Several studies suggest a complex relationship between lifetime exposure to racism, stress, trauma and prenatal depression that may trigger pregnancy complications. 15 The participants in our study were very aware of the impact of stress on their wellbeing in general and on their pregnancies in specific. Participants identified four sources of significant stress in their lives: racism and environmental stress, economic and job related stress, parenting stress, relationship and intimate violence-related stress. For the women in our study, stress is not related to one stressful incident, such as the loss of a job or death in the family. Instead, their lives are marked by interlocking stress factors related to their multiple roles as workers, providers, homemakers, parents and elder caregivers.

  5. This is an embarrassment to progress, Cities seem to be Failing technological advancements are being set back, by human weaknesses ,We are not growing undeveloped land is being polluted and wasted, before cultivation, Overall Population decline, I fear America will be extinct in just a few more centuries, Diseases Drugs Cancers Crimes, Unable to reproduce a Good Crop, or Generation of thinkers ,I call it the death of the American Family, You ask the average youth or College student Were they plan to be at 50 years old,They will say to you I really don’t care to be Alive,or have thoughts of achieving old age, or care too, No Value System.

About the Author

Johnna Kelly
Johnna Kelly

Johnna Kelly, healthe news contributor, is a manager of public affairs and marketing at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove. She is a former newspaper reporter and spent nearly 10 years as a public relations professional working for state and county government. During her time as a communications staffer for the Illinois General Assembly, she was integral in drafting and passing legislation creating Andrea's Law, the nation's first murderer registry. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local homeless shelter, enjoys traveling, photography and watching the Chicago Bulls.